45 Degree Light Placement


Film Photography with Strobe Lighting


Lesson Info

45 Degree Light Placement

We're gonna start talking about light modifiers and light placement in particular. So, where do you put the lights? How do you know where to put the lights to create the look you want? Which, honestly, is a question I get all the time. And again, for me, when I was learning, my reference was window light. So, when I started to think about how I was gonna place my lights, where I was gonna put them, I started think about how I use a window, how I work with a window. And I feel like this is kind of an interesting way to come at it. So, again, I'm self-taught; I didn't go to school, I hadn't yet learned about... Rembrandt light, or Loop light, or any of that kind of stuff, I was just thinking of, "how do I recreate that "beautiful window light that get? "When I am working with a window, "where do I put my people?" And as I thought about this, I was like, "Okay, well when you're working with a window, "your window stays the same. "You're not moving your window around, right? "So, generally...

, you're moving your person "in relation to that window." With strobes, because you're carrying that window with you, of course, you can move that light around, but those angles is what I thought about. Like, verses necessarily where to put the light, I thought about angle to the light. And so, I work with kind of two different angles primarily in my work. By the way, do you love my Photoshop skills? Amazing diagram. (laughter) But, so what is forty-five degree light? So, what I noticed is when I was working with window light, is that I would often, instead of having my clients just standing like this, I would often have them kind of turned a little bit more of a forty-five degree angle to my light. And so, that's what I started doing with my light modifiers. So, actually, let's have a volunteer. Gabby, why don't you come up and be my volunteer? (laughter) Why don't you sit right here. So, again, when I'm working with window light, I would have just moved her body to be at that forty-five degree angle, but now that I can bring in my light, this is what I can do. So, I would bring in my light, and I would create that forty-five degree angle with my light. Here, I'm gonna just go ahead and turn this on, so we can see the model light, and it's so nice to have these model lights. Boom. And so, what's great about forty-five degree light, is, honestly, it works for everything. So, I don't know if you can see this, but what happens is it comes in here, and you get that pretty, soft light that goes across the face, and then you just get this kinda nice little soft shadow here. So, if you recall when I was first looking at those pictures that I'd studied for the window light that I loved, that was that direction of light that I loved. And ,I noticed that I would go back and look at my natural light photos and portraits I took using window light, and it was this light all the time. Where it was kind of high. Again, we talked about in the last segment about how you want your light a little high. I'll actually probably bring that up a little bit more. I'm gonna do that, cause Gabby's a grown-up. (laughter) She laughed. So, I'll bring it up a little more. So, I want that light kind of coming down, and I kinda want it like, they call it Loop light, kind of looping around, and filling all of this in. So, we get these really pretty highlights, and these nice shadows here. Thank you. You're Welcome. So, you can do that, and you get that kind of... That's what I'm talking about. So, you get that light, that highlight here, and that little bit of shadow here. And, I do this with babies, and I do it with families, but I also do this with my babies when they're sleeping. So, for those of you who work with children, or who are a baby photographer, I can show you how I do it for that. So, with a baby... I'm gonna move this. Or a little person, like a toddler or something, I wanna make sure... that... my light isn't too high up, because if you get the light too high up, it's gonna be so high up, you're gonna lose all the catch lights, and the baby's eye. So, when I'm working with a little baby, toddler, again I bring that light in really close, because closer the light, the softer the shadows, and I want that in my work. And then I'll bring my light down. Like way down. So, this is a different kind of modifier than I work with; the light here. The modifiers I work with, all this is on the other end, so I just get straight, but this would still work, cause it's so big. So, I bring it in here, and I would do that, and I'd get my baby, Betty; my little helper. And again, when I lay my baby down, I'm gonna be thinking a few things, right? Like if the baby's eyes are open, I wanna make sure the catch light's at the top of the eye. If baby's eyes aren't open... And she's here at that forty-five degree light to her. So, light's gonna be towards the top of her head. And I will try pulling her like I'm posing her, cause I can't not do it. She's just gotta look cute. So, then you're gonna get that pretty light. It's gonna be here, a little bit of shadow here. If here eyes were open, we'd get that catch light at the top of he eyes, but with sleeping there light that with the light like this, you're gonna have this kind of an image where you still have light here. Even when the baby's eyes are closed, I still want to make sure that that light's at the top of their head. It's just kind of a general good rule of thumb, if whenever you're working with your light, make sure the light is pointing towards your head; you're never going to go wrong. You're never going to end up with weird light. But here we have a little highlight here, and a little shadow here. And... this works really well with little kids together. So, again, forty-five degrees. If this is the edge of the bed, people are always anting to know where my light is in relation to that. If the bed's here, the light's just a little bit higher than the bed. And again, because I like those nice, soft shadows, my light's always really close in, and I'm always using a big modifier. What's really great about working with this kind of lighting, this whole forty-five degree lighting thing, too is that it works great with groups. We're gonna pose groups for just a second. So, because when you're at a forty-five degree angle like this... Why don't you come around here. There's a few things that happen. So, not only do you get this pretty, pretty loop light that comes around here on the front of her face, the light also... comes in this direction. So, you're getting light that's kind of spilling behind, and you're also getting light from this direction. So, it's not just all a straight line towards her face, but you're getting light that's spilling out here. So, when you do have more than one person, this is a really good way to light more than one person with just one light. I'm gonna show you more of this in a minute, cause we are gonna talk about lighting groups of people, but just so you know, this whole forty-five degree angle thing is really versatile. Thank you. You're welcome. And... And it will change a little bit, if you keep your light here like this, you can play around with it a little bit where that person is in relation to the light, but it's a great set up. This is where the lights in my studio are pretty much set like this all the time, and I hardly ever change them.

Class Description

To get the best portrait straight out of camera you need to control your light. Family and Newborn Photographer, Sandra Coan, walks through how easy it is to use lights with your film camera for the most control over how your image ultimately looks. In this course, Sandra will talk about how to approach your photo shoot by thinking about not only your subject but also the film and the light you want to create.

You’ll learn:

  • How to sync the flash with your film camera
  • How to meter for your subject and the light you’re adding to the image
  • How to choose the best film based off what you’d like the final image to look like

Throughout history, photographers have been using flash with film cameras. In this course, Sandra will cover everything to give you the knowledge to start taking portraits with your camera and strobes.


a Creativelive Student

Wow! with a lot of online stuff out there one can become rather overcome with too much information, however, the way Sandra presents her courses is just perfect! Her honest and simple and easy to understand approach was just what I needed. Not once did I think she was just going through the motions, she really loves what she does and it shows. To be able to rewatch and rewatch was also a key for me. Since I have dyslexia I have to take things one half step at a. time. After completion of the class I had a new found confidence when using strobes. A must have.

Micah Hewett Images

Out of all the classes I own on Creative Live, Strobe Lighting with Sandra is my FAVORITE! She is an incredibly kind and gifted teacher. She explains everything on a simple level and then gradually build to more complex issues. I am 100% happy with this course. Thank you Sandra!!

Gabby de Janasz

Sandra Coan is a lighting genius! I loved watching her high-energy and super informative class. I learned way more about studio lighting than I ever thought was possible. I'd definitely recommend this class to literally any person in photography, not just studio photographers. Thanks Sandra!!